Fewer births in Q4 as calving windows tighten

Wednesday, 19 February 2020

By Felicity Rusk

The latest data shows:

  • Q4 overall is ↓2% on the year
  • November ↓ 3.2%% on the year
  • Shift to tighter, block calving windows

During the final quarter of last year, births to a dairy dam totalled 342,400 head, according to the latest data from BCMS. This is 7,800 head (-2.2%) less than in the same period last year. Nearly half of the drop in numbers comes from November alone. Births to a dairy dam reached 112,000 head in November, 3.2% less than the same month in the previous year.

In 2019, births to a dairy dam totalled 1.45 million head, 0.3% less (4,500 head) less than the previous year. However, this is only 600 head less than the five-year average (2014-18).

Over the last 12 months, there has been a shift towards spring and autumn births. This could be a sign of some producers moving away from an all-year-round system to a block calving system, or that those operating block calving systems have tightened up their calving window.

Currently, cow condition is likely to be good. An abundance of quality silage and relatively mild winter temperatures will support both fertility and gestation into the spring. However, this winter has been remarkably wet. Therefore, when the grass can be accessed will be a key factor influencing condition throughout the rest of the year.

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